May 8, 2019: Key Takeaways from Facebook’s annual F8 Developer Conference; Instagram tests “Join Chat” sticker for Stories; YouTube hosts annual Brandcast event; NBCUniversal launches “ShoppableTV”
Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference: Influencer Marketing Takeaways
Last week, Facebook held its annual F8 Developer Conference. In typical Zuckerberg fashion, there was a lot to unpack, so we broke down the biggest updates and trends impacting the influencer marketing space for you.
1. Shift to Groups and Messenger
Facebook is overhauling its mobile app and is placing the emphasis on one of its most critical features: Groups. In addition to redesigning the physical look and layout of the app and putting the Groups tab front and center, there are also a plethora of new features that highlight Facebook’s commitment to community-based sharing, including support for specific communities, shipping on Marketplace, as well as opt-in friend-finder and dating services.
Messenger is also getting a major makeover. In addition to the release of a lighter and faster redesigned Messenger app for desktop and mobile, new features for Messenger also include new ways for users to watch videos together, new dedicated spaces for users to discover Stories and messages with others, and lastly, new ways for businesses to connect with potential customers with the addition of lead generation templates to Ads Manager.
As Facebook has worked to reinvent its platform over the past year, it has prioritized Groups and Messenger as two prominent features on the network, highlighting the variety of ways both Groups and Messenger serve to connect people.
With users continuing to shift towards Groups for one-to-one connection and more personalized communications, brands have the opportunity to leverage the moderators of established Groups and influencers to start brand-focused and/or interest-based groups. Although brands and publishers can now participate in Groups, influencers are still the Group SMEs, so it’s important for brands to work with influencers to understand how they can best engage in Groups in organic and authentic ways.
2. New Tools for Creators
Instagram is going all-in on creators, announcing several new features at F8 that are designed to optimize creators’ experiences on the platform and enable them to succeed. The first new feature, called Create Mode, is a redesigned camera that makes it easy to create a post from scratch without needing to upload an existing photo or video.
The second new feature is dedicated shopping tags that will eventually let any influencer, artist, or celebrity tag an article of clothing that they’re wearing so followers can buy that item from the post, all within Instagram. It’s currently available to a select few creators, with plans for a larger roll out TBD. Previously, only brands were able to take advantage of shopping tags to sell products using the platform’s new in-app checkout process.
As Instagram moves away from “likes” and towards social commerce, could the platform be planning for a future where “likes” or “comments” are replaced with purchase counts? Still, to date, positive social engagement has never significantly correlated with positive business outcomes. This instead would increase the inclination to click and purchase, rather than to like or comment, which is a more meaningful signal to inspire users to act based on how other users behave. If Instagram can use more compelling social proof metrics, like purchase count, to increase consumers’ intent to buy, Instagram’s emergence as a social commerce powerhouse becomes that much stronger.
With this shift in the industry’s focus on measurement that drives and results in actual business outcomes, this move would also be a step closer to reforming Instagram’s fraud culture since purchases are more difficult to fake.
Facebook’s Portal is getting a major glow-up. At the conference, Facebook announced that its Portal video chat device has gone global, along with announcing new additions to the service such as including a new Amazon integration that brings new Alexa skills (i.e., Flash Briefings), smart home controls, and the Amazon Prime Video app to the device. Facebook is also bringing WhatsApp, Facebook Live, and encrypted video calls to Portal.
Facebook’s integration with Amazon makes a social-augmented Amazon experience one step closer to reality. As Facebook seems to be testing the waters with video and devices, could a Portal integration with the Amazon Prime marketplace be next?
4. AR/VR Capes
Day Two of F8 was focused on Facebook’s long-term investments in AI and AR/VR. On the AI front, Facebook claimed its AI is now proactively taking down more than 99 percent of spam, fake accounts, and terrorist propaganda. But, it’s still struggling with hate speech, harassment and improvements to the technology’s inclusivity. To build a more “inclusive” AI, Facebook said it’s focusing on three major aspects: user studies, algorithm development, and system validation.
In AR news, Zuckerberg announced major plans to open Facebook’s Spark AR Studio to creators on Instagram later this year. While all brands and creators have had the ability to create AR filters on FB since last year, many brands shied away from leveraging the filters since they were only shareable to Facebook. The Instagram rollout will likely result in more brands and creators leveraging the features and filters since user activity is more significant.
Facebook’s deep, ongoing, human-led investments in diversity and inclusion emphasizes how shallow Facebook’s current demographic data is – and how much it’s probably getting wrong, current-state. Which means any demographic data that marketers are sourcing/scraping and relying on from the platform is misrepresenting those demographics as well.
To truly understand diversity and make AI inclusive for all, Facebook needs to continue to cast a really wide net and then confirm that data by asking individuals to self-report. For marketers looking to cast a diverse and inclusive influencer campaign, that means asking influencers and creators to self-report and confirm that data as well. Proud plug: Mavrck’s customizable influencer property features enable marketers to capture any influencer data points that are not included or accurately represented in the social opt-in or authentication process (i.e., shoe size and other preferences). For more information, check out our product one-sheeter.
Not Unrelated: Instagram Working on New “Join Chat” Sticker for Stories
Facebook isn’t the only app prioritizing private groups and group messaging. This week, reverse engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong discovered a new “Join Chat” sticker option buried in Instagram code, which would enable Stories viewers to join private groups directly from Stories.
Any more details?
Not quite. The “Join Chat” sticker allows users to add notes describing what chats are about, with the bottom of the notes stating: “People who view your story can request to join this group chat.”
Given Facebook’s recent initiatives prioritizing private group sharing (and by that way, Instagram too), it’s likely that it’s not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” this chat feature will be released. As such, brands and influencers will have even more opportunities to connect with specific audience segments to provide VIP-like experiences through exclusive content or previews, get feedback on content/creative before a campaign goes live, or get product feedback in real time.
YouTube Wants to be Your Personal Primetime
Last week, YouTube hosted its eighth annual Brandcast event where it announced major updates to its ad offerings and its “Originals” programming, ultimately positioning itself as “personal primetime,” touting its ability to target audiences by niche interests.
Back up. Who’s Watching?
In the opening remarks of the event, Google’s president of the Americas, Allan Thygesen, said that YouTube reaches more people aged 18-to-34 in one week than all cable TV networks combined. A recent Nielsen study also showed that half of Americans aged 18-to-49 are either “light TV viewers” or do not subscribe to TV at all, while 90 percent of this group watches YouTube. In another dig towards cable TV, YouTube said that 200 million people come to the platform every day to watch gaming videos, which is twice the audience of this year’s Super Bowl.
Ok… now you have my attention. What was announced at Brandcast?
Let’s start with ads. YouTube outlined changes to its Google Preferred offerings to help advertisers maximize their ad efforts, specifically through updating its Preference Score (P-Score) algorithm by adding platform and production metrics. Previously, the P-Score had only looked at popularity, passion, and protection. YouTube also announced that it now supports Nielsen Total Ad Ratings (TAR), allowing advertisers to compare YouTube and TV reach simultaneously.
Oh, and did we mention YouTube Originals is now free? YouTube has confirmed plans to remove the paywall from its Original Series, making them free and ad-supported. According to YouTube, this means that advertisers will have more opportunities to engage with broader audiences, drive meaningful results, and align with top Hollywood talent and YouTube creators. Spoiler alert: JBiebs next act may be a YouTube Originals exclusive.
What else did I miss?
YouTube values its creators. At the event, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki made a point of recognizing the importance of YouTube creators, positioning them as the platform’s silver lining as it continues to battle against misuse and brand safety issues.
Following the event, Wojcicki published a blog post addressing some creators’ biggest concerns and frustrations, including copyright claims removing ads from their videos, the sites trending section not showing some of the most popular uploads, and comments being removed for family vloggers. Bookmark it: Wojcicki’s communication is a great example of how to source, incorporate, and communicate influencer feedback as part of your brand, corporate, and marketing strategies.
Not only does YouTube have the highest share of reach and watch-time across all ad-supported OTT platforms, but also–thanks to the addition of TAR metrics–the platform is able to more directly compete with TV. For influencer-generated content, this will certainly help to validate influencers’ audience command, as this IGC can now be measured against the same metrics as TV and can, therefore, be tested in this type of environment.
Is This the TV Equivalent to the “Swipe Up?”
NBCUniversal launched ShoppableTV, which lets viewers purchase products while watching TV by pointing their smartphone camera at a screen during “on-air shoppable moments.”
During a test run on the TODAY Show, NBCUniversal claimed ShoppableTV generated thousands of scans and six figures of sales “within minutes.” While no other data has been released, NBCUniversal says networks that plan to start using ShoppableTV include NBC, NBC Sports, Telemundo, Bravo, E!, CNBC Prime, and USA Network.
What’s NBCUniversal saying?
“By pairing brands with our premium content, owning every stage of the purchase funnel and removing the barriers consumers traditionally encounter between seeing a product and making a purchase, we’re giving marketers a direct sales channel to millions of viewers across the country.” – Josh Feldman, Executive VP & Head of Marketing and Advertising Creative at NBCUniversal
Just when you thought the QR code was dead, it makes a dramatic comeback into your homes. Food for thought: if there is a shoppable item on the show, would that be considered a product-placement identifier? And if so, should the brand be required to have some type of sponsorship disclosure in the same way that the FTC requires publishers and creators to disclose sponsored content?